It was big news around campus this past week with the opening of the new Brammer Chapel & Center for Art and Communication. This 12,500 square-foot space on the top floor of our new campus center in downtown Everett is a BIG DEAL.
When I came to Trinity two and half years ago, I was surprised by many things, but one stood out in particular: Although we were an institution dedicated to faith development with a mission to develop leaders whose lives serve Christ, the church and society, we had neither a campus pastor nor a chapel.
Over the years, many colleges and universities that were once faith-based have secularized, and one of the first areas of erosion is chapel and worship. Chapel is important—it shapes a college culture by creating a public habit of attending, participating in and building community through worship. When I arrived, it was hard to imagine a healthy faith community and spiritual habit forming in our new home in Everett without a spiritual leader or a sacred space for worship.
Last February we were blessed by the addition of the Reverend Erik Samuelson as our Campus Pastor and Director of Vocation & Spiritual Formation. Erik is a wise spiritual leader with a passion for our students’ vocation and faith development, and he has done a fantastic job in his first year with us.
But even after adding Erik, we still had no place to gather for worship, although we DID have a clear vision of what we wanted in a new worship and creative space on the fifth floor of our campus center. We had four goals:
- Create a laboratory for young leaders to explore and practice what Christian worship might look like in the future
- Create an environment in which our worship life would serve as a microcosm of the living-learning community that is at the core of who we are
- Become a place where head, heart, and hands were integrated—aiding the entire community in encountering and expressing the Christian life in practical and habit-forming ways
- Provide a venue for the hosting of events, worship, musical performance and rallies that cater to the current Christian youth and young-adult movements
This vision of a worship and creative space caught the attention of the Reverend Mark Samuelson, pastor at Our Savior’s Lutheran Church in Everett and Erik’s father. Mark’s very first call had been to a small church in the farming community of Lenore, Idaho. During his time in Lenore, Mark had been mentored by a family, the Brammers, whom he believed might have some interest in our vision.
I am always amazed at the work God can do from one conversation. Armed with our vision of a new chapel and art space, Erik Samuelson, Mark Samuelson and Academic Dean Jeff Mallinson traveled to Idaho last spring to share our story with George and Jackie Brammer. Not long after that, I also visited the Brammers, and while I was there, they confirmed that they wanted to make a major gift (the second largest in our 70 year history) to help us create our new chapel.
Following many months of construction, we finally have a place of worship for our campus community. And on March 6, at three in the afternoon, students, faculty, board and foundation members, and other friends of the college gathered together to celebrate the opening of the Brammer Chapel & Center for Art and Communication.
The sun was out that afternoon, and from our view on the fifth floor, we could see the Cascade and Olympic mountains, Port Gardner Bay extending out into Puget Sound, and our surrounding community of Everett. It’s fitting that our worship space looks out into the world, since we teach our students that the life of a Christian is strengthened in worship but flows out into the community and to the world. Our chapel space represents our mission: to develop Christian leaders with a global perspective. But inside our walls, we are grateful for a spiritual home where, as a community, we can worship, learn and help develop each student’s mission in this world.
The official grand opening for our new chapel is scheduled September 27, with a worship service and a dedication. I hope you’ll join us at that celebration. And in just a few weeks we’ll announce a Brammer Chapel capital campaign that will allow us the capital to finish the chapel project and meet some programmatic needs related to spiritual development on our campus.
In the midst of all this excitement, we pause and give thanks to those who helped make this new space possible for us. Thank you Mark Samuelson, Erik Samuelson, Jeff Mallinson, and Lance Georgeson. Thank you so much, George and Jackie Brammer. And most of all, thank you God, for this gift.